“The next two weeks are extraordinarily important,” Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, also acknowledged Saturday.
Those bleak assessments came after the administration projected Tuesday that 100,000 to 240,000 Americans could die from Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, even if the federal government’s social-distancing guidelines are strictly followed in the weeks ahead.
In an interview Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, also concluded that “this is going to be a bad week,” and said the U.S. would “continue to see an escalation” in Covid-19 cases.
But the country’s top infectious disease expert also reported that the administration’s recommended mitigation measures could begin to yield results and prompt a “flattening out of the curve” of infections “within a week, maybe a little bit more.”
“So on the one hand, things are going to get bad, and we need to be prepared for that,” Fauci said. “It is going to be shocking to some. It certainly is really disturbing to see that. But that’s what’s going to happen before it turns around.”
More than 8,500 Americans have already died as a result of the illness as of Sunday morning, and the total number of confirmed Covid-19 infections in the U.S. has surged beyond 312,000 — although experts agree the actual number of those sickened is likely much greater because of limited testing capacity.